Thursday, May 19, 2016

Revisiting Why

My fave literary image says it all
An aspiring writer asked me this week the question authors who've been around any length of time inevitably get: Why do you write?

I know I've addressed this question before, but it's been a while, so perhaps you will indulge me revisiting the issue.

It's a hard question to answer, really. It's like asking someone why they eat chocolate. You just do. Even though you know it's going to result in sleepless nights, thigh-u-lite, and humpback whales beached on your hip bones (I call that OOPS: Obstinate Orca Propagation Site).

You do it anyway. Idiocy, right?

So that's sort of why I write. I can't NOT write.

I certainly didn't become a writer for the money. I became a writer despite the money. It cracks me up when people say, "Wow, you've got 35 books out now? You must be rolling in the dough, eh?" (Yes, people actually say this; crassness knows no shelf life.)

I want to respond, "Sure. Pizza dough, bread dough, waist rolls, and muffin tops. That's about the extent of it." Mindless nibbling stokes the creative fires and there's no time for exercise. I've padded my inner size 4 with much insulation since my book Mom NEEDS Chocolate released in 2009.

Yep, writing definitely entails lots of sitting, an enormous challenge for the gal who's the step beyond ADD.

My writing creed: The mind cannot absorb more than the tushie can endure.

Nor do I write to achieve fame. One of my readers summed it up best: "I just love your book. I've read it over and over since I had my stroke and I enjoy it every time. Now if I could just remember your name."

Writing is not the best way to build self esteem either.
Mathematically,  it stacks up like this:
                 1 bad review
     +  1,000 compliments    
                 1 bad review

And the public speaking part of writing? Who'd ever thunk you couldn't write without speaking? Gone art the days when you could simply hide away in your writing cave and write; now you have to swear on a stack of suitcases that you're willing to leave home for weeks at the time (usually while you're trying to write your next book to meet your contractual deadline) in order for publishers to give your book manuscript a chance. They won't even look at it until you sign in blood that you're good to go. And go. And go.

So what that you're a diagnosed anomic (means you can't come up with the appropriate word out of thin air)? Or that you HATE airplanes? Or that stress breaks you out in hives and your hair falls out?

One of my writer buddies, Louis, said it best: "If everyone who thought they were a public speaker were laid end-to-end, it would be a fine idea to go off and leave them there."

So there you have it. I don't know why I write.

Wait. Maybe it has something to do with this letter I received last week.

"My name is Susana. I'm 21 years old, I live in Costa Rica. I read your Too Blessed to be Stressed book in Spanish, I really like it, was funny and I learned about God. It is my first Christian book and I feel how my life is changing. I'm thankful. Sorry for my English. I'm learning. God bless u!"

Yep. I'd say that's why.

So writing friend, why do you write?